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One of many great things to do in Naples: Find the skull by Gazettr

Neapolitans have unique traditions for dealing with their dead, the origins of which have been obscured by time. Although many of the ritual observances are on the wane, some locals still practise rites that to outsiders can seem downright macabre. The Neapolitan cult of the dead involves caring for the skulls – capuzzelle, in local dialect – and bones of the unknown dead. People ‘adopt’ skulls in the city’s hypogea (underground tombs), bringing the bones gifts, clothes, pillows and flowers, or even building small wooden houses for them. In return, the souls belonging to the skulls are supposed to protect and grant favours to their caretakers.


Cappella Sansevero
 by Gazettr

The funerary chapel of the Di Sangro family was built in 1590, but took on its current appearance in 1749-66, thanks to the eccentric prince of Sansevero, Raimondo di Sangro, who hired the leading sculptors of the day to decorate it. The high altar is carved in accordance with the ...

Catacombe di San Gaudioso/Santa Maria della Sanità
 by Gazettr

Tunnelled out of the Capodimonte hillside in Roman times for use as water cisterns, these labyrinthine catacombs were used as a burial site from the fifth century onwards. In 452, the burial of St Gaudiosus - a North African bishop and hermit - made the site an important shrine. The ...

Certosa-Museo di San Martino
 by Gazettr

This Carthusian monastery complex was founded in 1325, although its present appearance is the result of much 16th-century reworking. State of the art visitor facilities, airy rooms and terraced gardens with sweeping views over the Naples waterfront make the Certosa one of the city's must-sees. The church's late 17th-century façade, ...

Cimitero delle Fontanelle
 by Gazettr

The Cimitero is closed for restoration, although it does open up during the Maggio dei Monumenti (Monuments in May) when Naples' historic gems open their doors to the public gaze.

San Pietro ad Aram
 by Gazettr

In the first century AD, the sea almost reached the current site of the Stazione Centrale, lapping against what would later become the estates of the convent of San Pietro ad Aram. It was here, according to local legend, that St Peter was driven ashore by a storm that stopped ...

Santa Maria del Purgatorio ad Arco
 by Gazettr

The three bronze skulls on the railings (a fourth was stolen in the 1950s), and its popular name, cap'e morte ('death's head'), are clues to why this 17th-century church has such a hold on Neapolitans. This was the centre of a death cult, in which people would adopt and look ...

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